Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Japanese Beef Stew By Green Cilantro

As strange as it may sound, for the past few weeks I've been feeling like an alien (not the glowing green type) in a foreign land. I might as well as have moved to a country whose name I can't even spell. Like Kazakhstan (spelt with the assistance of Google autocomplete of course.)

Raining...but at least I have an umbrella!
Everywhere I went, I looked for 'familiarity' and found little of it.

In the supermarket, the brands of my usual staples like milk and eggs are different (who would've thought that those everyday items are different even one state away!) No big deal obviously. Changes are good.

Coffee at Brunetti on my first day in Melbourne!
Then on Thursday night, I strolled around the city confused as to why the shops were closed before 6pm. Isn't it late night shopping? Nope, it's Friday. Seriously, who goes shopping on a Friday night? (Ok, I did...after I found out).

Then there's the train which is incredibly unstable and literally shook me off my seat. And I also learnt that the train doors don't open automatically. On my first week here, I missed a train because I stood in front of a door waiting for it to open and before I could comprehend what was happening, the train started moving again! I guess this is more silliness on my part ;)

There is something deeply romantic about a flower shop on a rainy day. Don't you think?
Maybe it is also because I've moved into a different industry...away from all the computer geeks and into research where people in the office spam my inbox with abbreviations as long as a strand of the human genome. Ok not really. But initially it was strange not to see people in their pin-stripped uniform and a mouthful of corporate buzz-words.

And so I did come up with ways just to find that feeling of familiarity - a smell, a sight, a sound, a taste or a prayer. I found it in a few places. And one of them is my kitchen. My food. My food seems to taste the same everywhere I go.

This Japanese beef and potato stew with konnyaku noodle (to replace my usual Chinese noodles) tastes the same as the version I grew up with. The simple sweet soy broth with tender (and fatty!) beef, hearty vegetables and the slightly chewy strands of this healthy konnyaku noodle is best eaten curled up on the couch while you watch a movie on T.V you've seen a few times already.

Ahhh, the familiarity of it all!

Japanese beef and potato stew with konnyaku noodle
Adapted from MASA

200g beef, sliced thinly (I used wagyu beef)
500g Potato, peeled and chopped roughly (although I chopped into cubes to shorten cooking time)
100g Carrots, chopped any way you like
1 tomato (optional)
300g Onions, sliced thinly
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cooking sake
1.5 tbsp mirin
1 packet of konnyaku noodle (from Japanese/Asian grocery stores)
1. Boil the konnyaku noodle into a pot of hot water for around 2 minutes.

2. In a big pot, add a splash of cooking oil and put in your meat slices.

3. Add the konnyaku from step 1 as well as the onions into the pot and stir around the pot for a few minutes.

4. Add the potatoes, carrots as well as the tomatoes and stir around the pot. Then add into the pot around half a litre of water.

5. Turn the gas up to High and bring to boil for 2-3 minutes. Then turn down the heat before you add in the sauces (soy, mirin, sake and sugar).

6. Put a lid over the pot and cook until the water/stock has reduced and the potatoes/carrots are soft and cooked through.


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